The Hawks have been conspicuously quiet for the past few days, despite the facts that their blue line still sucks to high heaven and they never really filled the open spot in the top six (and if you think Andrew Shaw is that, please mail me whichever substances you’re using). So, the official signing of Kirby Dach is what we’ll hold onto for now, since he ought to be a top-six solution someday.
Dach signed a three-year entry-level deal ($925,000 per) today. The signing doesn’t mean too much new, other than the Hawks can now get their hands directly in the dirt of molding him into the Center of the Future™. Of course, Dach gave platitudes about how he wants to make the team out of camp and make management make tough decisions, which is something they’ve never been particularly good at (see Teravainen, Teuvo; Seabrook, Brent post-2015 Cup; Jokiharju, Henri), so tread lightly, Kirby.
As usual, the Hawks will have nine free games to look at Dach before he burns a year off his contract, if they choose. And unless he’s a complete mess throughout camp and the preseason, we’re hoping that the Hawks will play him over the first nine games. Remember that after the season opener against the Flyera in Czech Republic, eight of the nine games they play are at home, which is about as easy a landing as you can imagine getting, provided Beto O’Colliton plays the matchups (something he hasn’t proven to us just yet).
If he does turn out to be a mess, or if/when we start hearing about how versatile Artem Anisimov is on a wing and boy oh boy are we excited for THAT justification, Dach will go back to the WHL because of a weird rule wherein if you’re under 20 and not American, you can’t play in the AHL until either your junior season ends or you turn 20. Based on some of the signings/trades so far (Shaw, Carpenter, Kampf), you have to imagine Dach will need to blow it out of the water to even sniff the nine-game threshold, let alone playing beyond that.
We’re all sitting and hoping the see Dach in the first nine games of the season, but we aren’t holding our breath for it. The Hawks have played around the fringes the last couple of years, so it’ll be surprising if they stray from that conservativeness with Dach. If you see Artem Anisimov in another sweater before camp, things’ll get a little bit more interesting, but until then, it’s hard to see how Dach carves out any spot on the team this year, even if he does look good in camp.
They’ve got contracts and experience to play, after all.